'Thinking For Berky' by William Stafford

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In the late night listening from bed
I have joined the ambulance or the patrol
screaming toward some drama, the kind of end
that Berky must have some day, if she isn't dead.The wildest of all, her father and mother cruel,
farming out there beyond the old stone quarry
where highschool lovers parked their lurching cars,
Berky learned to love in that dark school.Early her face was turned away from home
toward any hardworking place; but still her soul,
with terrible things to do, was alive, looking out
for the rescue that--surely, some day--would have to come.Windiest nights, Berky, I have thought for you,
and no matter how lucky I've been I've touched wood.
There are things not solved in our town though tomorrow came:
there are things time passing can never make come true.We live in an occupied country, misunderstood;
justice will take us millions of intricate moves.
Sirens wil hunt down Berky, you survivors in your beds
listening through the night, so far and good.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Poetry, Thinking for Berky by William Stafford: A Deep Dive into the Poem

If you're looking for a poem that gives voice to the power of the human mind and its ability to find meaning in even the most mundane of situations, then look no further than William Stafford's "Thinking for Berky." This classic piece of poetry is a beautiful example of how language can be used to communicate deep truths about life and the world around us.

The Power of Imagination

At its core, "Thinking for Berky" is a poem about the power of imagination. The speaker of the poem describes a man named Berky who is "working in the fields all day, / digging potatoes, / chopping hay, / stacking sheaves" (lines 2-4). Berky's life is one of hard physical labor, but the speaker notes that "Even on Sunday he rested" (line 5). Despite the difficult nature of his work, Berky is able to find moments of solace and reflection amidst his toil.

This is where the power of imagination comes in. The speaker notes that Berky "watched the stars,/ and he felt the spin of the earth, / beneath his feet" (lines 7-9). Even though Berky is rooted in the physical world, his mind is free to wander and explore the universe around him. He is able to use his imagination to connect with something greater than himself, and this gives him a sense of purpose and meaning.

The Search for Truth

Another theme that runs through "Thinking for Berky" is the search for truth. The speaker notes that Berky "had a theory about the human soul, / and he felt that it was a mighty thing" (lines 11-12). Berky believes that there is something within each of us that is greater than the sum of our parts, and he is constantly searching for ways to connect with this deeper truth.

This search for truth is not easy, however. As the speaker notes, "sometimes in summer he would lie down / in the clover" (lines 15-16). Berky is not afraid to take time for himself, to slow down and reflect on what he has learned. He understands that the search for truth is a journey, not a destination, and that it requires patience and perseverance.

The Beauty of the Natural World

A third theme that is evident in "Thinking for Berky" is the beauty of the natural world. The speaker notes that Berky "knew the suckle of first snow / at the tips of mountains, / and he stood, one day, in a field of roses" (lines 19-21). Berky is attuned to the world around him, and he takes the time to appreciate its many wonders.

This appreciation for nature is not just aesthetic, however. The speaker notes that Berky "had a sense of it, rising / in him, / both as order, / and as a kind of necessary wildness" (lines 22-25). Berky understands that the natural world is not just pretty to look at; it is an integral part of our existence, and we ignore it at our peril.


In conclusion, "Thinking for Berky" is a powerful poem that explores some of the most fundamental themes of human existence. Through the character of Berky, the poem celebrates the power of imagination, the search for truth, and the beauty of the natural world. If you have not yet had the pleasure of reading this classic piece of poetry, I urge you to do so. It will leave you feeling inspired and uplifted, and it may even change the way you look at the world around you.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry is a powerful tool that can evoke emotions, inspire change, and capture the essence of life. William Stafford's poem "Thinking for Berky" is a prime example of the power of poetry. This poem is a beautiful and thought-provoking piece that explores the human experience and the importance of living in the present moment.

The poem begins with the speaker observing a dog named Berky. The speaker notes that Berky is always in the present moment, never worrying about the past or the future. The speaker then reflects on how humans are often consumed by worries and anxieties, and how we often forget to live in the present moment.

The poem's central message is that we should learn from Berky and live in the present moment. The speaker notes that Berky is always "thinking hard" about the present moment, and that we should do the same. The poem encourages us to let go of our worries and anxieties and to focus on the present moment.

The poem's structure is simple but effective. It consists of four stanzas, each with four lines. The poem's simplicity allows the message to shine through without any distractions. The poem's language is also simple but powerful. The use of short, simple sentences and everyday language makes the poem accessible to everyone.

One of the most striking aspects of the poem is its use of imagery. The speaker describes Berky as "a little dog / under the table" and notes how he "watches with sparkling eyes." This imagery creates a vivid picture in the reader's mind and helps to convey the message of the poem. The use of imagery also helps to create a sense of intimacy between the reader and the speaker.

The poem's tone is one of wonder and admiration. The speaker is in awe of Berky's ability to live in the present moment and is inspired by his example. The poem's tone is also hopeful, as the speaker encourages us to learn from Berky and to live in the present moment.

The poem's message is particularly relevant in today's fast-paced world. We are often consumed by worries and anxieties, and we forget to live in the present moment. We are constantly checking our phones, worrying about the future, and dwelling on the past. This poem reminds us that we should take a lesson from Berky and focus on the present moment.

In conclusion, William Stafford's poem "Thinking for Berky" is a beautiful and thought-provoking piece that explores the human experience and the importance of living in the present moment. The poem's simple structure, powerful imagery, and hopeful tone make it a timeless piece that is relevant today as it was when it was first written. This poem is a reminder that we should learn from the animals around us and focus on the present moment. It is a call to action to let go of our worries and anxieties and to live our lives to the fullest.

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